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By: Nodari Maisuradze, an Academic Year Program participant, FLEX student, and Greenheart Club member.

Hello, everybody. My name is Nodari, I am from Georgia and I am currently spending my exchange year in Texas. I have been in the United States for almost 8 months now. Being here showed me the importance of volunteering and the difference it makes in people’s lives.

During Christmas, me, my host family and some other exchange students wrapped gifts for tips. All the tips were donated to local charities. We also collected different kinds of donations, such as food, clothes, toys, etc. We raised enough money to buy little Christmas presents for the residents of local nursing homes. Sometimes we would spend so much time wrapping gifts it seemed like all I did was wrap but it all paid out in the end. We collected over $1500 worth of food for a local food bank and donated $900 to a local charity. Donations we received helped buy Christmas gifts for a needy family in our area. nodari 4

Me and other FLEX students in the area helped run a concession stand during an event that raised down syndrome awareness. With the help of Walgreens, we set up a booth where we ran several raffles to raise money to help a lady beat breast cancer. We also helped run a free Easter photo shoot which also provided donations.

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Most of the time, I am having a good time volunteering. Knowing that what I am doing is making a difference in other nodari 5people’s lives keeps me going. I think being a volunteer is the best way to make a difference at our age. The feeling you get when you somebody’s face light up because of something you did is priceless. I think that if everybody devoted a very small part of their time to helping other people, the world would be a better place.

In my opinion, one of the most important things United States has taught me is how a very small and subtle thing can make a huge difference in somebody’s life. Sometimes we take all we have for granted, never realizing that there are people who would do anything to have what we have. I think it is our job to help those who deserve it.

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